Harvard Management Company — the firm managing the University’s $41.9 billion endowment — may have bought Bitcoin as early as 2019 from market exchanges, per a Monday CoinDesk report.
Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that operates independently of central banks, exists only as a series of transactions on a series of servers known as “blockchains.”
When it started in 2009, bitcoin ranged in value from $5 to $20. But in the past four years, the price of a single bitcoin has spiked to more than $20,000 before falling back to around $16,000.
This is not the first time the University is reported to have invested in cryptocurrency. In April 2019, Harvard-affiliated investors purchased around $11.5 million worth of Blockstack cryptocurrencies, according to filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Blockstack, which started as an open-source digital privacy project, launched its coin in 2018. It was one of the first cryptocurrencies to gain approval from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
HMC was reported to have 95.8 million stack tokens at Blockstack’s initial offering. At the time, the investment made up less than 0.05 percent of Harvard’s endowment, which was then valued at nearly $40 billion.
The Information, citing an anonymous source, reported in October 2018 that Harvard and several other universities invested in a cryptocurrency fund, though the report did not cite which type of digital currency.
Bitcoin’s value has more than quadrupled in the past year, but its success has not come without scrutiny. Over the past several years, the cryptocurrency has faced concerns in the United States and abroad about its potential use for illegal activities.
Bitcoin’s value dropped by as much as 10 percent on Tuesday morning, as investors await the Biden administration’s plans for the future of cryptocurrency and its markets.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen, and Gary Gensler, the nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, have signaled that they would look closely into regulating Bitcoin.
HMC spokesperson Patrick S. McKiernan declined to comment, citing HMC’s policy not to comment on individual investments.
—Staff Writer Virginia L. Ma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff Writer Kevin A. Simauchi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Simauchi.